“I am optimistic that we will see this nation come back to God.” So states Britain’s Pastor Agu Irukwu of the Redeemed Christian Church of God. His group was founded in Nigeria but now has 600 congregations across the U.K.
Nearly 800 British churches have closed in the last six years, but Pentecostal or charismatic churches are taking their place. For instance, Hillsong Church London holds four services every Sunday, attended by 8,000 people. More than 5,000 churches have been started in Great Britain since 1980. God is moving in a country desperate for spiritual awakening.
Meanwhile in America, Southern governors are facing increased pressure to compromise on religious liberty or lose business for their states. Colleges are spending millions of dollars to deal with an escalation in sexual misconduct cases. And the U.S. government will spend an additional $22 million to fight an epidemic of heroin and painkiller abuse.
Does our nation need moral and spiritual renewal?
Our first president observed that “of all the dispositions and habits which lead to political prosperity, Religion and morality are indispensable supports. . . . Virtue or morality is a necessary spring of popular government.” Apparently our sixth president agreed.
Writing for Foreign Policy, James Traub profiles John Quincy Adams. Adams was the son of our second president and our only chief executive ever to serve in Congress after his presidency ended. Traub highlights Adams’s brilliance (he read from Cicero, Tacitus, and Plutarch by the age of seven) but focuses even more on his character.
According to Traub, Adams fashioned his entire life around principle. That’s why he was unwilling to make political compromises that could have ensured greater political success. And it is why he could humble himself by returning to Congress to continue his commitment to public service.
However, Traub notes that our age is different from that of the Founding Fathers: “Our household gods are not Plato and Aristotle—philosophers of a fixed cosmos—but Darwin and Freud.” Darwin taught our culture that we are the product of evolution, not creation. Freud taught us that we are the product (and sometimes the victim) of our subconscious mind and instincts. Neither believed in a personal, transformational God.
The fact that Traub’s essay nowhere mentions Adams’s fervent personal faith is evidence that Darwin and Freud remain his “household gods” as well. But his admiration for Adams’s strength of character is clear. And his conclusion is poignant: “I do not expect anyone to follow [Adams’s] example today. I would very much, however, wish for us to revere it.”
We can revere Adams’s example—or, with Jesus’ help, we can follow it. The future of our culture depends on our decision: “Righteousness exalts a nation, but sin is a reproach to any people” (Proverbs 14:34).